Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Boot Lagoon at Casey's, general goings on in the Canterbury area

[Casey's Alehouse, Canterbury, 14th September 2011] The Boot Lagoon hadn't played together for a few months, with drummer Seth having been away travelling, so this set had a welcome spontaneity and urgency about it. Despite almost no traditional promotion, the place was nicely filled with an enthusiastic audience (this is what happens in the age of social networking, when you've got a bit of a scene together). I'm starting to really like the glimmers of West Coast psychedelia that are beginning to appear in amongst the very British progressive rootedness of the Boot's dominant sound (faint echoes of Santana and Miles-influenced Dead). Support came from Famous James and the Monsters, fronted by Ash from the Ukelele Gangstas playing banjo (more Edwardian strumming than bluegrass pickin') and a singer-guitarist called Jamie, together singing lush harmonies. Quirky, feelgood songs (including one that couldn't be described as anything other than "disco folk"). Great energy from both bands.

The next evening I was jamming as part of Random Article (just me and Miriam this time), and on Friday I found myself over in Wincheap at Ash's house for the first time, having arranged to teach Andy (who plays Celtic music in the new local folkie trio Triskele) the ancient Chinese board game Go. Having not played in a few years, I was happy to have found a new potential opponent, and he picked it up quickly within the course of a single game. While pondering the configurations of stones on the board, we were immersed in the warmth of a succession of Amadou & Mariam albums played through a decent amp and four-way speaker setup, absolutely gorgeous.

Saturday night saw a party at the farmhouse in Boughton from which Syd Arthur largely operate. After getting lost in a labyrinth of muddy footpaths in Blean Woods with only the dimmest of lights on my bike, I finally got there. And once there, I finally got a chance to jam a bit with Liam, as well as a few other people. The band had played near Bath that day, so he and Joel got in quite exhausted, but he couldn't resist getting his acoustic guitar out and trying out some new riffs, grooves and themes. He also tried out a little (Pueblo? Zuni?) wooden flute his parents recently brought back from New Mexico on a trip along Route 66.

Joel took a few of us upstairs to listen to a (truly) unique piece of vinyl. The band (and Liam as a solo performer) had taken part in an ongoing art installation in London which involves the artist Ted Riederer working with a specially constructed German vinyl lathe, cutting single copies of 12" recordings live (i.e. as the music is being played) in a studio space. Actually, the pieces aren't quite unique — he makes two copies, one for the artist to keep, and another to be placed in his mock "record shop", into which the public are invited to come and listen to the various creations.

Never Records is a multi-media multi-artist project by New York artist/musician Ted Riederer. Exploring the potential of a record store and record label to unite, educate, and uplift a community through recorded sound, Riederer's project began in an abandoned Tower Records near Union Square in New York City. In January 2010, Riederer, in collaboration with curators No Longer Empty, created what the Wall Street Journal described as a "mock shop" that served as a "love letter to the dying concept of the record store."

Syd recorded their current top track "Ode to the Summer" (their own studio recording of this soon to be released on 7" vinyl). Unfortunately, despite a performance they were happy with, the sound quality's pretty rough. But as it was literally cut live (onto tranparent one-sided vinyl), you could kind of "hear through" the ropey sound and appreciate what an extraordinary artefact (and literal record of an extraordinary event) was on the turntable (or "vinyl player" as the new generation seem to call them now).

Down in the rehearsal studio, Guy was on the decks playing some loud, twisted, dark, somewhat alarming (but compelling) dubstep ("Can this possibly be good for me?" I kept wondering, as the music pushed, pulled and twisted both my internal organs and my neural architecture). I was trying to imagine what it might sound like to a really old person...

A very civilised Sunday morning unfolded in the dining room with Clare (party host and Furthur friend), Adam (Lapis Lazuli, Delta Sleep), Tom (a singer-songwriter), Andrew (Zoo For You) and Josh (also Zoo, disappearing into sleepworld in a sleeping bag in the corner), sipping tea and listening to Moondog, Saint-Saëns, Terry Riley, Durutti Column, Pablo Casals, William Byrd, John Dowland, Pharaoh Sanders, Miroslav Vitous, Bobby Hutcherson, Matching Mole, Chicago Underground Quartet, Curtis Mayfield, John Coltrane...

...and then a wonderfully trippy sleep-deprived bike ride home through sunny Blean Woods. Life is good.


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